On a recent fly-fishing trip to Michigan, I learned two things.
Michigan is where Trout Unlimited was founded, and it is also where brown trout were first introduced to the United
This would be important if you were playing a game of fly-fishing trivia, or were in Michigan fishing for brown trout.
Neither of those applied to me. I was in Baldwin, Mich., with my friends Sam, Dick and Jim to fly-fish the king salmon
run on the Pere Marquette
River, aka P.M. It was an unbelievable experience.
I had never fished the run before and had no idea what to expect.
Dick and Jim are from that part of the world, have fly-fished it many times, and would only smile when asked, "What
should I expect?"
I was advised to bring a 9-weight rod, my reel spooled with either zip or floating line and 100 yards of backing. To go
with this, I needed leaders from 10 to 18 pound test. To tie on to the leaders, three flies were suggested: egg
patterns, egg-sucking leeches and Montanas.
To finish off this rig, I
attached split-shot weight that could make your luggage fail its weight-limit test.
Now that I was all rigged and ready to fish, my questions became, "How do I know where to cast, and how do I cast all
this line and weight?"
It was patiently explained to me that since this was the king salmon run, all I had to do was look across the river.
This is the time of the year that the salmon are making the annual run from Lake Michigan, up the P.M. for a romantic
interlude. They are in the river by the thousands.
As they make the run upstream, there are two places they are most visible - the deeper pools where they seemed to be
resting and the gravel beds where romance takes place.
With this many fish, knowing where to cast was easy. Learning the best way to cast to them took but a few seconds. A
good roll cast or a well-placed shooting cast worked best.
The cast was followed with a downstream mend to allow for a good swing. Casting into that many fish allows for two
types of hook-ups - a foul hook or one in the jaw.
Now, before you get upset with me for even thinking about a foul hook set on purpose, bear in mind these fish are here
for one purpose - romance.
Further, after that is accomplished, they die. (Seems like a high price to pay for sex.)
The one fish to avoid is the female. They are laying the eggs and are fewer in numbers than the males.
The way to identify them is to watch for a salmon lying on her side digging a hole in the gravel with her fin to hold
I caught salmon, foul hooked and in the jaw. The fish I caught were in the 15- to 20-pound range and 20 to 25 inches in
The first one I caught was into my backing in a split-second. He was the first of many to do that. I also caught
several brown trout holding beneath the salmon to eat the freshly laid eggs.
The P.M. is a wonderful
fishery. It lies in a dense forest with moss covering the ground, making it as soft as a feather bed.
During the spring and summer, trout abound. The fall brings the salmon, and winter is for steelhead fishing.
Since I've caught the salmon, I want to go back for the browns and steelhead.
I hope to see you on the river.
Reach Don Oliver at email@example.com